The National Weather Service has confirmed that a brief EF-0 tornado touched down just west of Pace early Monday morning.
The tornado, with maximum winds of 75 miles per hour, was on the ground for two-tenths of a mile and traveled from Ephrem Lane to Bradley Drive. It was estimated to be about 50 yards wide, according to meteorologist Brandon Black with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.
The EF-0 tornado was the only confirmed tornado to have touched down in Northwest Florida during the storm event that swept through the area just past midnight Monday. A series of straight line wind bursts, however, had sustained winds stronger than the tornado and did serious damage to other parts of the region, particularly in Cantonment, Pea Ridge and Milton.
"That's one of the things that we try to stress to people, is that straight line winds can be just as strong as a weak tornado, even as low as an EF-1 or EF-2," Black said. "Straight line winds can cause a significant amount of damage."
In Cantonment and in other areas of central Santa Rosa County, the straight line winds were estimated to be between 80 and 85 miles per hour.
Survey crews from the National Weather Service were on the ground Monday and Tuesday assessing the damage to determine whether it was caused by tornadoes or by straight-line winds. The same storm system spawned confirmed tornadoes in nearby Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Another strong line of storms moved through Santa Rosa County mid-day Thursday.
Annie Blanks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8632.